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Celebrity deaths 2020: The stars who have died in an extraordinary year


This year has been one that nobody will forget in a hurry.

We have been confined to our homes, told not to go into workplaces and been kept apart from our loved ones. And that’s just a small part of it.

The last year has also dealt many other sad blows as many famous faces from stage, screen and sport – including a number of Greater Manchester’s legends – have all tragically died.

The year isn’t out yet, but here’s a look at the people we’ve lost, but will continue to remember, in 2020:

Des O’Connor

Des O’Connor with his CBE at Buckingham Palace
(Image: PA)

Entertainer Des O’Connor died at the age of 88 in November, just days after he suffered a fall at his home.

The TV star, who lit up screens with shows like Today With Des And Mel and Des O’Connor Tonight, died in hospital.

O’Connor presented his own prime-time TV shows for over 45 years and he also hosted Countdown with Carol Vorderman.

He first fronted his own show in 1963 while the success of his singing career saw him sell 16 million records and spend 117 weeks in the top 10 of the charts.

The four-times married star appeared on stage around the world, including hundreds of shows at the London Palladium.

He had his own US TV programme and his chat show Des O’Connor Tonight was a British television staple for a quarter of a century. He was also known for appearing in game shows Take Your Pick and Pot Of Gold.

O’Connor was made a CBE in 2008 for his services to entertainment and broadcasting.

Bobby Ball

Bobby Ball (left) was famed for being one half of comedy double act Cannon & Ball
(Image: PA)

Bobby Ball, one half of comedy double act Cannon & Ball, died at the age of 76.

Famed for his ‘Rock on Tommy’ catchphrase, the  Oldham -born actor, comedian and singer, real name Robert Harper, is best known for hosting ITV’s The Cannon and Ball show for nine years with with his best friend Tommy Cannon.

Ball passed away at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on October 28 after testing positive for coronavirus.

Cannon & Ball met while working in a welding factory in Oldham, and formed one of the most successful comedy acts of the 1970s and 80s.

Ball went on to star in various dramas and sitcoms including Last of the Summer Wine and Heartbeat.

In 2005 he took part in reality series I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, where he finished in sixth place.

From 2009 he played the role of Frank in long-running BBC Sitcom Not Going Out, alongside Lee Mack.

Sean Connery

Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr No

James Bond legend Sir Sean Connery died at the end of October.

The star, who first portrayed 007 in Dr No, passed away at the age of 90 peacefully in his sleep overnight while in the Bahamas, having been ‘unwell for some time’.

The Scottish actor starred in seven of the spy films, including You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, between 1962 and 1983.

Sir Sean’s other films included Indiana Jones, The Hunt for Red October, Rising Sun, A Bridge Too Far, Highlander, and The Rock.

His five-decade acting career won him two BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globes.

Sean was knighted in the 2000 New Year Honours for services to film drama.

Caroline Flack

Caroline Flack died in February
(Image: PA)

Caroline was just 40 years old when she died in February.

The Love Island presenter was found dead at her east London home and an inquest later recorded she took her own life.

Two hundred relatives and friends gathered to say their goodbyes to Caroline – who they affectionately called ‘Carrie’ – at her funeral service in Norfolk in March.

Caroline had a successful career as a TV presenter, breaking onto the scene in 2002 on the sketch show Bo’ Selecta!

Many presenting roles followed including Fame Academy, Gladiators, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here’s spin-off, Britain’s Got More Talent, The X Factor and it’s spin-off before landing Love Island in 2015.

She also won Strictly Come Dancing in 2014 with professional dancer Pasha Kovalev.

Nobby Stiles

Nobby Stiles was diagnosed with Alzhemier’s over 15-years-ago
(Image: PA)

Manchester United legend and England 1966 World Cup winner Nobby Stiles aged 78 after a long illness.

Stiles, who was born in Collyhurst, was part of the Manchester United side which became the first English club to win the European Cup, when they beat Benfica in the final at Wembley.

He won league titles with the Red Devils in 1965 and 1967, before the continental success the following year.

Stiles was credited with playing a key role in neutralising the threat of Portuguese star Eusebio in the World Cup semi-final. In total he won 28 caps, the lowest number of any of the World Cup-winning side.

Stiles left United in 1971, going on to play for Middlesbrough and Preston.

He later managed the Lilywhites between 1977 and 1981, before coaching Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps and then West Brom between 1985 and 1986.

He returned to United as a youth team coach under Sir Alex Ferguson in 1989 for a four-year stint.

Stiles was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease more than 18 years ago.

John Sessions

John Sessions has sadly died
(Image: PA)

Spitting Image comedian and actor John Sessions died aged 67.

Mr Sessions was best known for his work on TV shows Spitting Image, Have I Got News For You and Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The Scottish actor voiced some of the puppets on satirical series Spitting Image and also conceived cult comedy Stella Street.

He more recently appeared in TV drama Skins and sitcom Outnumbered and as John Russell in ITV period drama Victoria.

Luis Troyano

Luis Troyano

Former Great British Bake Off finalist Luis Troyano tragically died, aged 48, in November.

The Poynton baker, who made it to the finals of the TV competition in 2014, died from oesophageal cancer.

Paying tribute to her husband, Luis’s wife Louise said: “Your life was a blessing, your memory a treasure, you are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure.”

Eric Hall

Eric Hall
(Image: PA)

Eric Hall, the former showbiz and football agent, died aged 73 after a short illness.

Hall made his entry into the music business as a tea-boy alongside a young Elton John, and would later go on to represent some of the Premier League’s biggest names in the 1990s.

He was famed for his trademark cigar and ‘Monster monster’ catchphrase and also made deals on behalf of household names Dennis Wise, Tim Sherwood and Neil Ruddock.

After giving up acting school at 15, Hall went on to promote records for stars like Frank Sinatra, the Bay City Rollers and Clive Dunn – of Grandad fame – and claimed to have launched the careers of Queen and Cockney Rebel.

When the Sex Pistols sparked fury with their infamous four-letter outburst at TV presenter Bill Grundy in 1976, Hall was the agent who booked them onto the programme.

He moved into football in 1986, after a chance meeting with Tottenham’s Steve Perryman when in a nightclub with friend Terry Venables.

Six years later and the establishment of the cash-rich Premier League helped elevate the stock of players represented by Hall and others in the business.

He became critically ill with the E.Coli bug and septicaemia in 1997 but recovered and spent his later years on the airwaves, hosting a show on independent station Time 107.5FM.

Johnny Leeze

Johnny as Ned with Claire King as Kim Marchant and Roy Glover played by Nicky Evans on Emmerdale
(Image: ITV)

Former Emmerdale and Coronation Street star Johnny Leeze died after testing positive for coronavirus and suffering from underlying health conditions.

Johnny, 78, played farmer Ned Glover in ITV soap Emmerdale from 1994 until 2000.

In Corrie he played milkman Harry Clayton who bought 11 Coronation Street in 1985.

Johnny appeared in Coronation Street three times playing Mr Slater in 1982, Harry Clayton in 1985 and Laurie Johnstone in one episode in 2005.

His acting credits also include All Creatures Great and Small, Doctors, Early Doors, Heartbeat, Last of the Summer Wine, The Royal, Life On Mars and Phoenix Nights.

His Emmerdale character Ned was the patriarch of the Glover family and a childhood friend of Jack Sugden.

John’s screen appearances date back to 1982, when he made his TV debut in the sitcom Open All Hours in a bit part.

Johnny Nash

Johnny Nash
(Image: Michael Ochs Archives)

Singer-songwriter Johnny Nash, best known for the 1972 hit I Can See Clearly Now, died aged 80.

His son said his father, whose health had been in decline, died at his home of natural causes in October.

Nash was one of the first non-Jamaican singers to record reggae music in Kingston, Jamaica.

His single I Can See Clearly Now sold more than a million copies and reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1972.

He also had a number one hit in the UK in 1975 with Tears on My Pillow.

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Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen has died after a battle with throat cancer
(Image: Getty Images)

Rock legend Eddie Van Halen died at the age of 65 in October.

The guitarist and founder of Van Halen had battled throat cancer for ten years.

His health is said to have deteriorated rapidly with doctors discovering his cancer had spread.

Eddie’s wife Janie was by his side in his final moments, along with his son Wolfgang, and Alex, Eddie’s brother and the drummer in his band, before the rock star died at St Johns Hospital in Santa Monica.

Van Halen was formed by Eddie back in 1972 with his brother Alex on drums, Michael Anthony on bass and David Lee Roth on vocals.

With Eddie the mastermind behind their songwriting, the band shot to fame in the 80s with their debut self-titled debut album and are now regarded as one of the most successful rock acts of all time.

After selling 56m albums in the States and 80m worldwide, the band took their place in the Rock and Roll hall of Fame in January 2007.

In 2012 Eddie was voted number one in a Guitar World magazine readers’ poll of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Archie Lyndhurst

Archie Lyndhurst
(Image: CBBC)

Actor Archie Lyndhurst died at the age of 19 in October.

The teenager, who is the son of Only Fools And Horses star Nicholas Lyndhurst, played Ollie in So Awkward on CBBC.

Archie is said to have died following a ‘short illness’.

CBBC head of content Cheryl Taylor said he was ‘such a talented young actor.’

Archie’s heartbroken girlfriend Nethra Tilakumara, 21, starred alongside Archie in So Awkward. She described him as her ‘best friend’ – the boy who made her ‘the happiest girl in the whole wide world.’

Jackie Stallone

Jackie Stallone and son Sylvester Stallone
(Image: WireImage)

Jackie Stallone, the mother of Hollywood actor Sylvester and one of Celebrity Big Brother’s most memorable contestants, died aged 98.

Stallone, who was known as an astrologer and wrestling promoter, ‘died in her sleep as she wished’, her youngest son, Frank said in September.

She ran away from her home in Washington DC as a 15-year-old to join the circus and spent two years as a trapeze artist before taking a job as a chorus girl on Broadway.

Stallone married her first husband Frank Stallone Sr, in 1945 and had two sons, actor Sylvester and musician Frank.

She also had a daughter, Toni D’Alto, during her second marriage to Anthony Filiti, who sadly died of lung cancer in 2012, at the age of 48.

Toots Hibbert

Toots Hibbert
(Image: Getty Images)

Legendary singer Toots Hibbert died aged 77 in September.

He is best remembered for being behind hits including Pressure Drop, Monkey Man and 54-46 That’s My Number as leader of reggae group Toots and the Maytals.

The band’s 1968 single ‘Do The Reggay’ is credited with giving the reggae genre its name.

They released ‘Got To Be Tough’, their first album in a decade, in August prior to Hibberts death in September. His cause of death hasn’t been disclosed.

Dame Diana Rigg

Dame Diana Rigg
(Image: Getty Images)

Actress Dame Diana Rigg died aged 82.

Her agent confirmed the news in September with a statement followed by a message from Diana’s daughter, actress Rachael Stirling.

Dame Diana was best known for her roles in Game Of Thrones, TV series The Avengers and James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

She played the only woman who became Mrs James Bond when her character Tracy married George Lazenby’s 007 in the 1969 film.

Her most recent role was in the popular HBO fantasy series GoT where she played Olenna Tyrell from 2013 until 2017.

Other roles included the Duchess of Buccleuch in ITV’s Victoria and Mrs Pumphrey in Channel 5’s new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small.

She was made a Dame in the 1994 Birthday Honours for her services to drama.

Rodney Litchfield

Actor Rodney Litchfield
(Image: BBC)

Actor Rodney Litchfield – known for his role as ‘Old Tommy’ in the TV show Early Doors – died aged 81 in September.

Rodney, from Wigan, died in his sleep after being ill ‘for some time’.

His career spanned more than 30 years with credits in many of the North’s favourite TV shows including Brookside, A Touch of Frost, Cracker, Heartbeat, Emmerdale, Phoenix Nights, Coronation Street and Shameless.

But it will be for his role as miserly Old Tommy that Rodney will forever be known.

Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman is known for his role in Black Panther
(Image: Publicity Picture)

Actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for playing superhero Black Panther, died following a battle with cancer.

The 43-year-old had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and died surrounded by his loved ones, including wife Taylor Simone Ledward, in August.

He never discussed the illness publicly and films including Black Panther, Da 5 Bloods and Avengers: Endgame were all filmed ‘during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy,’ his family said.

Boseman was cast as superhero T’Challa, the king of fictional African nation Wakanda, in 2014, and made his debut as the character in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

The release of Black Panther in 2018, two years after Boseman was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, was a landmark moment for representation in Hollywood.

Both the film and Boseman’s portrayal of the titular superhero achieved universal acclaim as well as huge success at the box office.

It also sparked a worldwide celebration of African culture, with the character’s famous ‘Wakanda Forever’ salute inspiring millions of people to feel an added sense of pride in their African heritage.

Born in South Carolina, Boseman originally wanted to become a writer and director, graduating from Howard University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing.

After moving to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career, Boseman’s breakthrough role came in the 2013 film 42, in which he starred as baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson.

Boseman again assumed the role of a revered African American figure when he starred as soul singer James Brown in the 2014 film Get on Up.

His most recent film was Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, which arrived in June. He played a US soldier killed in action during the Vietnam War and was widely lauded for the performance.

Boseman is set to make a posthumous appearance alongside Viola Davis in upcoming drama film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Denise Johnson

Denise Johnson
(Image: Sue Langford)

Manchester singing legend Denise Johnson died suddenly in July.

She was famed for collaborations with Scottish rock band, Primal Scream, and ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr’s group Electronic.

At the time of her death, the vocalist was preparing to release a debut acoustic album called ‘Where Does It Go.’

Born and raised in Hulme, Denise Johnson began her career performing with American soul band, Maze, during an English tour in the late 1980s.

From there, she went on to sing on Primal Scream’s hit album Screamadelica, with her vocals most notably the track ‘Don’t Fight it, Feel It.’

During the mid-to late 1990s, Johnson released three solo singles: ‘Rays of the Rising Sun’, ‘I Believe’, and ‘Inner Peace.’

She went on provide vocals on a number of songs for Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner’s alternative dance super group, Electronic.

Peter Green

Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green
(Image: PA)

Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green died aged 73 in July.

Green formed Fleetwood Mac in the 1960s alongside Mick Fleetwood and was instrumental in some of their early hits.

He left in 1970 due to a decline in his mental health.

He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in hospitals undergoing electro-convulsive therapy during the mid-70s.

Green was among the eight members of the band — along with Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie, Christine McVie, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer — who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Paula Tilbrook

Paula Tilbrook
(Image: ITV)

Emmerdale star Paula Tilbrook died at the age of 89 in July.

The actress, who was born in Salford, played village gossip but adored neighbor Betty Eagleton for 21 years in the ITV soap before she announced her retirement in 2015.

Paul last appeared in Emmerdale in the 2015Christmas episode.

As well as appearing in the Dales, Paula also starred in 11 episodes of Coronation Street in 1977 as Estelle Plimpton and appeared again later as Olive Taylor-Brown in 1978 and 1980.

She also starred in Last Of The Summer Wine and Brookside.

Naya Rivera

Naya Rivera
(Image: Getty Images North America)

Glee star Naya Rivera died in July.

Her body was found in Lake Piru in Southern California after she was reported missing on a boat trip with her four-year-old son.

A medical examiner ruled that she died from accidental drowning following a full autopsy.

Rivera, 33, was best known for playing cheerleader Santana Lopez on TV musical-comedy Glee from 2009 to 2015.

Her family paid a tribute to the actress, telling Deadline: “We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week.

“While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honour her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit. Naya was an amazing talent, but was an even greater person, mother, daughter and sister.”

Jack Charlton

Jack Charlton

Jack Charlton died peacefully in July aged 85 at home in Northumberland, with his family by his side.

Charlton, the brother of Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton, was a former Leeds and England defender who won a World Cup winner’s medal in 1966.

He had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and was also battling dementia.

He spent his entire 21-year playing career at Leeds, making a joint club record 773 appearances, before retiring as a player in 1973 and going on to enjoy a successful and colourful career as a manager.

One of English football’s most popular and larger-than-life characters, he had spells in charge of Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and the Republic of Ireland, who he guided to their first major finals at Euro ’88 and two more in the space of 10 years.

Dame Vera Lynn

Dame Vera Lynn
(Image: BBC/Captive Minds/Liz Mills)

Dame Vera Lynn, known as the nation’s sweetheart for keeping up morale during World War Two, died at the age of 103 this summer.

The singer was best known for performing hits such as ‘We’ll Meet Again’ to troops on the front line in countries including India and Egypt.

She is most remembered for her songs ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’, ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ and ‘There’ll Always Be an England’.

In their statement, Dame Vera’s family described her as one of ‘Britain’s best-loved entertainers’ with the Prime Minister noting ‘her voice will live on to lift the hearts of generations to come’.

Dame Vera sold more than a million records by the age of 22 and earlier this year became the oldest artist to get a top 40 album in the UK, beating her own record when her greatest hits album re-entered the charts at number 30.

Willie Thorne

Willie Thorne died at the age of 66
(Image: PA)

Former snooker star Willie Thorne died at the age of 66 after a short battle with leukaemia in June.

Thorne reached two World Championship quarter-finals and won his only ranking title, the Mercantile Credit Classic, in 1982.

He later commentated on the sport for the BBC, and appeared on the fifth series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Thorne announced he had leukaemia in March and was being treated at a hospital in Spain.

Little Richard

Little Richard
(Image: Getty Images)

Pioneering rock ‘n’ roll singer Little Richard died at the age of 87 from bone cancer in May.

Little Richard’s hit songs include Good Golly Miss Molly, Tutti Frutti, Rip It Up and Long Tall Sally.

The singer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

The likes of The Beatles, Elton John and Elvis Presley all cited him an influence on their own musical endeavours.

June Bernicoff

June Bernicoff at home in Allerton, Liverpool
(Image: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo)

Gogglebox star June Bernicoff passed away at the age of 82 in May.

She was one of the original stars of the hit Channel Four reality show along with her late husband Leon.

A statement shared by Gogglebox creator Tania Alexander on behalf of the show and her family said June, who left her home city of Liverpool after 62 years in 2019, died at home with her family by her side after a short illness.

Tania said: “June and her husband Leon were a huge part of the programme’s success.

“Their warmth, wit and contrasting personalities endeared them to the nation during the course of the first 10 series.”

Following Leon’s passing in December 2017, June wrote her first book, Leon And June: Our Story, which chronicled their 60-year love affair.

Lynn Faulds Wood

Lynn Faulds Wood
(Image: Getty Images)

Former BBC Watchdog presenter Lynn Faulds Wood died at the age of 72.

The Scottish television presenter and journalist was best known for her time on the BBC consumer show from 1985 until 1993 alongside Oldham-born John Stapleton.

Lynn, who also worked on BBC’s Breakfast Time before joining ITV’s GMTV, was also a cancer campaigner, having survived advanced bowel cancer while a presenter of Watchdog.

Her family announced the sad news of her death and said her husband and son were at her bedside.

They said she suffered a massive stroke and a subsequent bleed on the brain.

Eddie Large

Comedian Eddie Large has died aged 78
(Image: Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

Comedian Eddie Large died at the age of 78 after contracting coronavirus in April.

Large, a devoted Manchester City fan, moved to Manchester with his family when he was a boy and attended Claremont Road Primary School.

The Scottish comic was best known for his comedy double act with Syd Little, who he met in a Wythenshawe pub, and their  TV  show The Little And Large Show.

He passed after being treated in hospital for heart failure and contracting Covid-19.

Large had suffered from kidney and heart problems for a number of years.

Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers
(Image: PA)

Country music star Kenny Rogers died of natural causes at the age of 81 at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

He is known for songs ‘Lucille’ and ‘Islands in the Stream’, which he duetted with Dolly Parton.

Rogers won three Grammy awards and was a figure in the American music business for more than four decades.

He sold more than 100 million records worldwide during his lifetime, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

His most popular song was the 1978 track ‘The Gambler’, which won him a Grammy Award in 1980 and was selected in 2018 for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress.

Rogers later transformed his Gambler persona as character for a successful series of television films, starting with 1980’s Emmy-nominated ‘Kenny Rogers as The Gambler’.

Roy Hudd

Roy Hudd and Maggie Jones in Corrie in April 2002
(Image: Granada Television)

Comedian and actor Roy Hudd, who played undertaker Archie Shuttleworth in Coronation Street, died aged 83 in March.

Hudd, who was awarded an OBE in 2004 for services to entertainment, passed away peacefully after a short illness.

He also hosted BBC Radio 2’s The News Huddlines for 26 years before playing Archie in Corrie on and off from 2002.

Born in Croydon in south London, Hudd was an authority on the history of music hall entertainment.

He made his professional debut as a comedian in 1957 at the Streatham Hill Theatre.

In 1958, he joined the Redcoats at Butlin’s in Clacton and worked alongside Sir Cliff Richard and Dave Allen.

In a varied career he appeared in Call The Midwife, Midsomer Murders and Holby City.

In 2017 he appeared in ITV’s Broadchurch and in 2019 made an appearance as a patient in the BBC’s Casualty.

Michel Roux

Michel Roux
(Image: Getty Images)

Michel Roux died aged 79, his family announced in March.

The legendary French-born chef opened the first Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Gavroche, in Britain in the 70s alongside his brother Albert.

The pair’s next project, The Waterside Inn, became the first restaurant outside France to hold three stars for a period of 25 years.

He is also the uncle of celebrated, two-star Michelin chef Michel Roux Jnr.

Dave Rainford

Dave Rainford
(Image: Jeremy Vine (Twitter))

David Rainford, known as Dave, was the Mancunian star on TV quizshow Eggheads.

Dave, from Withington, was one of the resident quizzers on the popular teatime BBC show and earned the nickname ‘Tremendous Knowledge.’

A well known character in south Manchester, he said he was even banned from quiz machines in some pubs, such was his skill at quizzing.

He died in March aged 51. His cause of death was not confirmed.

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas as Spartacus
(Image: BBC)

Hollywood great Kirk Douglas died in February aged 103.

The star, who was one of the few remaining survivors of Hollywood’s ‘golden age’ was best known for films including Spartacus, Ace in the Hole and Champion.

He died at his home in Beverley Hills, Los Angeles on February 5 with the his eldest son and two-time Oscar-winner, Michael Douglas, announcing his father’s death with a touching tribute.

He said: “To the world he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to.

“But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband.”

Douglas made his film debut in 1946 noir The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers, opposite Barbara Stanwyck, and soon established himself as a star, with his explosive acting style and masculine persona making him a perfect fit for Hollywood.

The first of Douglas’s three best actor Oscar nominations came for 1949 boxing drama Champion, with a second following for his role in 1952’s The Bad And The Beautiful, in which he starred opposite Lana Turner.

His third arrived for the 1956 biopic Lust For Life, in which he portrayed Vincent Van Gogh.

While he never won a competitive Oscar, the Academy awarded him an honorary prize in 1996.

He is best known for 1960 historical epic Spartacus.

Nicholas Parsons

Nicholas Parsons died aged 96 after a short illness
(Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)

Just a Minute host Nicholas Parsons’ death was announced in January.

The presenter passed away with his family around him at a hospital in Aylesbury, aged 96, after a short illness.

Parsons, who was born in Grantham, had a long career in television, radio and theatre and continued to work well into his 90s.

He started as an entertainer before later becoming a full-time professional actor, making his stage debut in the West End in The Hasty Heart in 1945.

He hosted the BBC Radio 4 comedy panel show Just a Minute since its first broadcast in 1967.

Parsons 50-year run on the programme was broken in June 2018 when he was unable to present two shows due to having the flu.

He was also the oldest intermittent broadcaster on BBC radio.

Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna
(Image: Getty Images)

Basketball giant Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash in Calafornia at the start of this year.

The ex-LA Lakers player and NBA legend, 41, was travelling with Gianna, a rising basketball star, and several others when the aircraft crashed near Calabasas.

The son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, he started his career for the Lakers in 1996 after becoming the first guard to be drafted straight out of high school by the Hornets, who immediately traded him.

Bryant won the 1997 Slam Dunk contest, and was named an All-Star in his second season.

Forming a formidable relationship with Shaquille O’Neal on the court, Bryant helped the Lakers win three back-to-back NBA championships from 2000-2002.

After being awarded most valuable player in 2008, Bryant added a further two championships to his and the Lakers’ tally, once again winning them consecutively in 2009 and 2010.

His haul of five titles is the joint-highest total in franchise history, and he remains the Lakers’ all-time leading points scorer.

The shooting guard wore numbers eight and 24 during his career, which were both retired by the Lakers in December 2017.

Bryant is survived by wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia, Bianca and baby Capri.

Derek Fowlds

Derek Fowlds as Oscar Blaketon in Heartbeat
(Image: Yorkshire Television)

Derek Fowlds, star of Heartbeat and Yes Minister died aged 82 in January.

The London-born actor played the role of Oscar Blaketon for 18 years in the long-running  ITV  police drama Heartbeat.

His character first appeared as the local police sergeant and later retired to run the village post office.

Fowlds is also known for playing Bernard Woolley in Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister.

The star also spent four years on the kids  TV  show The Basil Brush Show as Mr Derek.

He died surrounded by family at Royal United Hospitals Bath after suffering from pneumonia that led to heart failure caused by sepsis.

He is survived by two children – sons Jamie and Jeremy, who is also an actor.

Derek Acorah

Celebrity TV psychic Derek Acorah
(Image: MDG)

Derek Acorah died at the age of 69 in January.

The Merseyside-born self-styled spiritual medium, who starred in Celebrity Big Brother and the Most Haunted series, died after being treated in intensive care following a ‘brief illness’.

Derek was born in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1950.

He shot to fame on Most Haunted and also went on to present Derek Acorah’s Ghost Towns.

In November 2009, Acorah featured in Michael Jackson: The Search for His Spirit and attempted to contact the late singer’s ghost.

He also once claimed to have received a message from Madeleine McCann through a spirit guide, before apologising to her parents after mass outrage.

Derek went onto appear in the 20th series of Celebrity Big Brother in 2017. He finished fourth in the series.

Nick Gordon

Nick Gordon and the late Bobbi Kristina Brown
(Image: WireImage)

Nick Gordon, the former partner of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s late daughter, died from an accidental heroin overdose, a post-mortem found.

He was found unresponsive at a Sheraton hotel in Maitland, a suburb of Orlando, Florida, on New Year’s Day and was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The 30-year-old once dated Bobbi Kristina Brown, announcing their relationship not long after legendary singer Houston died in February 2012.

Bobbi, 22, died in 2015 after spending six months in a coma.

Bobby Brown Jr

Landon Brown, Bobby Brown Jr. (centre), and Bobby Brown
(Image: Getty Images for BET)

Bobby Brown Jr, the son of American R&B star Bobby Brown, died aged 28.

Bobby Jr was the half-brother of Bobby’s daughter with Whitney Houston, Bobbi, who passed away aged 22, in 2015.

Bobby Jr was reportedly found dead at his home.

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